A Coffee, The Hudson and My Echoes

About spreading the word…..

Archive for the ‘Doodles’ Category

A green day.

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After several months of resistance, i finally went out and bought me a water purifier. A consumer of bottled water, I finally decided to go a little greener in my way of life. 5 years back when I set foot in America, I was told that the water that flowed out of that tap in the kitchen was potable water. Mildly surprised that such a level of cleanliness was maintained by a society, I filled and consumed glass after glass of regular tap water. And then a newspaper ran a story of a woman in New Jersey (I think)  finding a small piece of bone in her glass of drinking water. I dismissed it as an isolated incident. Continued drinking out of the tap. Then came another story that basically said that the drinking water in parts of Washington D.C. had high levels of pharmaceutical residue. Now with NJ being the mecca of pharmaceutical industry, its a logical assumption that its ground water is contaminated with the waste of the pharmaceutical industry.  Although I dont remember the exact article I read about this, here’s some evidence.  So I switched, that very day, to bottled water. Never did think twice before buying those crates of packaged drinking water. More recently, I figured I could reduce the amount of plastic by buying water in higher quantity. So for the past few months, I bought packaged water in bulk, thus reducing the amount of plastic I consumed. As I wandered today into the excessively lit local super market, a voice within me convinced me to buy a water purifier instead of my monthly supply of packaged drinking water. The planet just went a tad bit greener today. Look outside. Notice it?

So I returned home happy to have decided to go green. As I poured over the internet aimlessly, I came across this documentary called “Home”. 300,000 + views with some 6000+ times of being favorite d, I sat and watched it. Fantastic photography. Beautiful narration. A few factual errors but point well made, its a movie that I’m sure has compelled at least a handful of people to go green, if not all the 300,000+ who watched it. What disturbed me a bit though was the fact that the entire movie was shot from an aerial view, from an airplane or helicopter I assume. Unless the movie was put together from pre-existing footage from other sources, lets say Nat Geo or Discovery, the amount of CO2 that was released in procuring several hours of unedited aerial footage would’ve most certainly contributed to the global warming of the planet, albeit by an relatively small amount. Instead, the crew could’ve invested the several thousands of dollars in solar panels or wind turbines and made a movie borrowing footage from other sources and wrapped it up by showing how they are responsible people.That the movie was shot entirely from air makes it hypocritical. somehow.

Anyway, here’s that documentary. Watch. Learn. Change.


Written by Au Fait

June 6, 2009 at 10:51 pm

Posted in Doodles

Stairway to here.

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Sarah Frere-Jones wrote this article about Led Zep’s performance in London for the New Yorker. Wouldn’t have caught my eye if it wasn’t for the link on Google News. Strangely, this article appeared under “Pop Music”. Although “Pop” supposedly stands for Popular, its such a disgrace to Led Zep to even talk about them under a genre used to define the “music” of Britney Spears and The Spice Girls and every other similar band. The nerve!

Written by Au Fait

December 17, 2007 at 2:25 am

Posted in Doodles

1 + 1 = 3?

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The present day health of the United States economy has become a source of increasing concern to me. The recent crash of the stock market fueled by an ailing housing sector is proof that the residential real estate is a significant component of the various financial intermediaries. The behavior of the housing sector has generally been regarded as an early indicator of an impending economic recession. The reason behind this is the complex inter-relationship between the housing sector and the various elements of the economy. The fall in housing related investment is expected to be anywhere between 4 to 6% of the GDP. This reduction in investment is, in all likelihood, expected to beat the drop in investment during the tech sector bust of 2000-2001 that accounted for about 2% of the GDP. Over the last 3 years, about 30 to 40% of the jobs created were in some way related to housing. Such is the influence of the housing sector on the American economy.

Compounding the economic issue is the decrepitude of vital infrastructure such as bridges and the roads. The collapse of the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis brought to focus the conditions of bridges and roads in the country. Columnist Neil Price wrote “The indisputable reality is that our national infrastructure, led by decaying roads and bridges, is in perilous shape. Bridges alone tell the story: We have 75,621 of them deemed structurally deficient — potential tragedies waiting to happen.” Anyone living in Northern Jersey knows exactly what Neil Price is talking about. Northern Jersey has the highest concentration of freeways in the country. This means more on/off ramps and bridges. Considering that several of these bridges were built around the 1960s, its time that these bridges got more than a token safety inspection. Added to this, most of the freeways in this part of Jersey need resurfacing. Besides offering a poor ride quality, this results in the average American spending more towards vehicle maintenance. To resurface all of the decaying roads implies a serious financial commitment. Given a growing trade deficit, how does America plan to rebuild these roads? Oil.

One of the byproducts obtained during the fractional distillation of crude oil is what’s called as Bitumen. The word ‘Asphalt’ refers to a mixture of mineral aggregate and bitumen and as we all know, it is used for paving roads. When one speaks about the Iraq war, it is most commonly thought that America went after oil. Why is there a need to control oil? The ulterior motive behind the need for oil appears to be linked to infrastructure. How else does a country go about repaving thousands of miles of roads all in decrepit condition?

China. A name we hear everyday. China makes it possible for the multinational Cos to rake in a profit while at the same time be able to offer goods at an affordable price. Sounds rather clean and simple. Labor is inexpensive so if your process involves labor, you off source it to China and save significantly on Labor. Same is true with India except that India offers services as compared to China which offers manufacturing expertise. It is estimated that since the off sourcing epidemic began, America has lost 1.8 million jobs. Every major corporation from Intel to Mattel, has established operations in Asia.

David Zweig, a professor at Hong Kong’s University of Science and Technology once said “The Chinese don’t want war – the Chinese just want to trade their way to power”. Never does that seem any truer that it is today. A once imperialistic China is now turning into a global superpower. On the 1st of September 2007, The Boston Globe ran an article titled “Disaster Relief Needed for Manufacturing”. According to this article, “During the past 20 years, according to U.S Department of Labor, 4.8 million jobs were lost in manufacturing, while only 200,000 were gained. 37 states lost manufacturing jobs. Massachusetts-down 375,000 jobs- was among the hardest hit.”

Then there’s what I call the waterfall effect of off sourcing. The economies of India and China are growing at a extremely rapid rate. A growing economy leads to improved pay packages, improved infrastructure and in the end, an improved quality of life. How does this pose a threat? Brain Drain.

Flawed immigration laws here in the U.S have caused scores of skilled laborers to head back to their countries and work for American competitors. Find here an article that New York Times ran titled “Indian find they can go home again”. Businessweek ran an article titled “Reverse Brain Drain threatens U.S Economy”. USA Today too ran an article titled “The Reverse Brain Drain”.

I could go on and on and bore you with more statistics that point to an ailing economy. If there ever was a time to stop the economic killing, this is it. It would be an understatement to say that we rely heavily on the U.S Politicos. Never before have they been faced with such a challenge- A challenge to survive in the era of Globalization.

I’m no economist but if the worst housing slump is 53 years, a worsening infrastructure, the loss of about 2 million jobs, the brain drain phenomenon and an increasing trade deficit aren’t signs of an ailing economy, I don’t know what is.

While you contemplate the state of the American Economy, I’m gonna excuse myself to watch Judge Judy. Apparently, this guy painted his neighbors white cat black. I wonder why he chose black……..

Written by Au Fait

September 3, 2007 at 11:21 am

Posted in Doodles

Urine Therapy

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Never did I think there’d be a day when I’d write about urine but then in the last 6 months, I’ve unfortunately come across this so called urine therapy a number of times. Is there really something to it? well…frankly, it makes no difference to me but thinking about it has made me feel a little sick now….and if I feel sick, there’s no reason you shouldn’t. Read on.

When in Bangalore earlier this year, I was driving around Palace Orchards when I spotted a banner at a traffic stop. It read “Dr. Jain’s Cow Urine Therapy” with a 1-888 hotline. I silently wondered if there were any suckers for this con job of a therapy. Recently, I came across this website by a man named Michael Braunstein (Click here) and again, I got thinking.

Back in the day, as a kid, I’d visit my grandparents every so often. My Grandfather’s house was situated at a corner of a 4 street intersection and almost every evening, by an electric pole right at the corner closest to the house, a milkman would sell…hmmm…lets see….. milk to people of the neighborhood. He would tie a cow or 2 to the pole and when a customer approached him, he’d milk the cow that very moment and provide the customer with the quantity desired. I’d sometimes stand on the terrace and watch idly as people queued up to buy milk. Of course, when the cows had to contribute to nature, they did irrespective of whether there were people queued up or not. To think of such an event today evokes a strange feeling that I cant quite describe. Life back then bears absolutely no resemblance to life today. It almost seems like it was a whole different world altogether. Anyway, It was at first shocking and then amusing to see the village folk cup their hands under the stream of cow urine and drink a sip of what they caught in the pits of their palms and anoint their hair with what was left. If a woman waited in that queue carrying a baby, she would anoint the baby’s hair as well with urine. I was told that people did this because they considered cows to be sacred. A re-incarnation of Lord Krishna. Of course, that they even scooped up fresh dung off of the ground with their bare hands and took it with them used to make my tummy roll.

I had come across an article, a REALLY long time back, that mentioned that back in the day, before the advent of sterilizing and antiseptic solutions, surgeons used urine to sterilize the surgical instruments before an operation. I tried looking for some information regarding this on the internet but to no avail. You’ll just have to believe me and that article I can’t locate on the internet.

Madonna, on a David Letterman show in 1992, admitted to peeing in the shower as a remedy to her athlete’s foot/foot fungus. You’ll find lots of articles that talk about this but here is the whole transcript of her interview with David Letterman. It’s mostly nonsense…..i suggest, if you ever click on that hyperlink, searching for the word ‘shower’ and it should take you right to that part of the conversation.

Finally, here’s an excerpt from an article about urine in the Encyclopedia of Alternate Medicine.I would’ve posted the whole article except that it isn’t free and there’s NO WAY I’m paying for that bit of information.

“References to the use of urine for medicinal purposes can be traced to ancient Egyptian, Chinese, Aztec, and Hindu histories. Proponents also point to Proverbs 5:15 in the Old Testament of the Bible: “Drink water from thy own cistern, and the streams of thy own well.”

As an integral part of the ayurvedic tradition of yoga, urine therapy is known as amaroli. Ayurvedic yogis are encouraged to drink their own urine between 4 and 6 A.M. in the morning in the belief that the hormones ingested will facilitate a meditative ?…” In case you desperately want to pay up for this article, follow this link.

So there……..an entire post on, well, urine. Feel free to comment while I throw up generously.

Written by Au Fait

August 9, 2007 at 11:13 pm

Posted in Doodles

Pensamientos al azar

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A lot has transpired since the last time I blogged. I was able to squeeze in a trip back home and for the first time, meet my little darling of a niece. That I miss her very very dearly should sum up what she has come to mean to me. I did consider posting some pix of her but then decided against it. I dont think I want her to debut on the internet yet. I’m back in Jersey now and things are as they were. Status quo. Springs here so the NE is just a little livelier and I’m not about to complain! If Springs here, Summers just around the corner….cant wait!

I’ve been able to read up a few books meanwhile…The fountainhead (I LOVE this book. An absolute genius of a work. The persona of Howard Roark is just absolutely devastating. What a philosophy!), Now, Discover your strengths (Apparently, my 5 greatest strengths are Learner, Input, Focus, Ideation and Deliberative.) Woody Allen’s SideEffects ( An outrageous book. Good TP). Most of these books deserve more words than these. I should perhaps move them to another post.

That apart, I’m hoping to make it to the Cherry Blossom festival in Washington D. C. this time around. Apparently, the peak is between Apr 3 – Apr 5. I’m hoping to go there the following weekend and get a glimpse of it. Didnt realize tat the Smithsonian Kite festival was on the 31st. The first time I’d heard of this festival was about 12-13 years ago in the Smithsonian magazine. Been here almost 3 years now and havent gotten a chance to see it first hand. Could’ve bundled the kite and the cherry blossom festivals together if only I had known! Tcha! Tcha!!

I guess I’ll stop doodling now and work on getting my taxes done! I hate taxes!!

Written by Au Fait

April 1, 2007 at 5:48 pm

Posted in Doodles